Prior to the commencement of the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme for Results (PforR), State-level response to advancing fiscal transparency and accountability was low, key budget documents and audited financial statements were mostly not published or published late.
This was evident from the NGF’s assessment of States’ performance on the implementation of the Fiscal Sustainability Plan (FSP) introduced in 2016 by the Federal Government which covered 22 recommended actions aimed at improving fiscal behavior and aligning both short and long-term sustainability objectives of the Federal and State governments. Unfortunately, recommended reforms (including the publication of budgets, financial reports, and statements in line with global standards such as IPSAS) aimed at improving accountability and transparency recorded the lowest level of implementation at 44 percent.
With the SFTAS programme’s incentive of performance-based grants and the availability of free technical assistance from the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), all States now publish their budget, financial reports, and audited statements online, on-time and in line with respective standards such as the National Chart of Accounts (NCoA) and the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS).
This feat was possible through several advocacy engagements, the development and provision of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) toolkits (containing guidance manuals, videos, and reporting templates) to support the budget and financial reporting process including meeting expected standards.
The effort was supported by other capacity-building activities also delivered by the NGF over the last 19 months, including virtual advisory bilateral consultative sessions and physical technical walkthrough sessions with the state’s budget and accounting officers to ensure hands-on learning and knowledge transfer from subject matter experts.
By 31st July 2020, all States had been able to publish their FY2020 amended budget online, which was also Covid-19 responsive with at least 10% dedicated to COVID-19 expenditures. Also, all States were able to publish their FY2019 audited financial statements by 31st August 2020 and in line with the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS).
Working further with the States through its participatory capacity building process, the NGF was able to support all States to meet the SFTAS 2020 Eligibility Criteria (EC) Part 1, requiring States to prepare, pass and publish their FY 2021 budget online in line with the National Chart of Account (NCoA) by 31st January 2021.
Although, the SFTAS programme required at a minimum for States to adopt the administrative/organizational, economic, and function segments of the NCoA, NGF’s technical assistance provided States with the competence to prepare their budgets according to all segments of the NCoA, hence, the result of comprehensive FY2021 budget published online by all the States.
An analogous effort was accorded by the NGF to the reform of improving budget performance reporting and sustaining the preparation of the audited financial statement in line with IPSAS. All States with the exception of Anambra State for budget performance report (BPR) Q1 FY 2021, were able to publish their BPR for FY 2021 Q1 and Q2 by the 28th day of the following month past each quarter.
The 36 States also published their FY 2020 audited financial statement online by 31st July 2021 – however, this will now undergo an assessment by the Independent Verification Agent (IVA) which is the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAuGF), who will validate States compliance with the publication requirements set out by the SFTAS programme verification protocols.
In sustaining the milestones recorded thus far, the NGF continues to work with the Federal Government, State governments, and partners to ensure no State falls off the reform pyramid. Partners include FCDO PERL, BMGF, DAI implemented USAID State-2-State, BudgetIT, the World Bank amongst others.
Currently, 12 States (Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Benue, Edo, Jigawa, Katsina, Kwara, Lagos, Ondo, Osun, and Sokoto State) whose CoA required further adjustments are being engaged in a hands-on technical walkthrough workshop organized by the NGF from 26th June – 6th August 2021, to retrofit further their individual CoA towards their FY 2022 budget.
Speaking with the participants at the workshop, Dr. Aondowase Nyam, a Director of Budget from Benue State said that the workshop was timely and has no doubt it will address prior existing gaps in their CoA. He expressed confidence that the retrofitted Benue State CoA will avail the State and its citizens a more comprehensive budget for FY 2022. Dr. Nyam applauded the NGF for providing himself and other budget officers an opportunity to learn, especially as the workshop was participatory and delivered by a team of intellectually sound subject matter experts.
The Senior Program Manager NGF HelpDesk and SFTAS Technical Assistance, Mr. Olanrewaju Ajogbasile stated that the domestication of the NCoA is crucial to the reform objectives of fiscal transparency and accountability. He submitted that NGF’s technical assistance and the commitment of the State governments to the budget reporting reform process has made it possible for the first time in the country for the public to be able to access easily and compare State budgets. More importantly, they are able to interrogate budget line items more effectively, given the availability of budget information by Administrative, Economic, Function, and Fund Segments.
Mr. Ajogbasile mentioned that the Open Government Partnership (OGP), also an implementing agency on the SFTAS programme, is supporting States in this area by building States’ capacity to prepare citizens’ version of the budget and a citizens’ accountability report which will provide citizens with key highlights of the budget, priorities of the government and implementation performance for the financial year.
In consolidating the NGF’s effort on improving fiscal transparency and accountability, he stated that the NGF with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates (BMGF) Foundation, is working on a Public Financial Management (PFM) Database which will provide all State budgets and financial statements’ information to the public. Users who access the database will be able to download and analyze the information from one database and according to the NCoA reporting segments.
VISIT OUR SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS FOR MORE INFORMATION